3 Things to Do When You are Struggling with Change
3 Things to Do When You are Struggling with Change
It’s storming wild in my city and those surrounding it today, record rainfall, flooding that hasn’t been seen for 500 years. I work for a nonprofit organization; we intended to host our charity golf tournament today. But it wasn’t meant to be, and we were forced to reschedule for the first time in eighteen years.
What if we had showed up anyway, determined to golf, refusing to give up on our original intentions for the day? This answer is simple really: we would be naive at best, silly somewhere in the middle, foolish at worst. Dangerous roads, lightning striking, water rising - our persistence, our insistence, would have been reckless, shortsighted, fruitless.
It’s easy for me to see the irrationality of resisting change in an example like this, when I can see the rain outside my window, pounding down fiercely. But so often, resistance to change in my circumstances is my default position.
I regularly believe that change is going to hurt me, so I respond with a posture of avoidance.
Through many seasons of unexpected events, the Lord has been drawing me toward a posture of receiving life’s changes rather than resisting them.
In September of 2014, our second son was born with clubfoot, a common birth defect.
As the next several months unfolded, we learned that what we were facing was, in fact, not common at all, but a little known neuro-genetic disorder with unpredictable future implications. The winds of change howled.
I have cried out to God, asking Him to withhold the winds of change. But instead, He has begun to shift not the wind, but rather my requests. As I press into Him, He leads me to ask for the strength and grace to lean into change and find it at my back, propelling me forward, into flourishing. As I call on Him, frustrated by my circumstances, He reminds me that I have a choice: I can be windswept, or I can be wind-powered. As I dwell on God’s character, He reminds me that, because of His Spirit within me, I can channel change for good.
If you are struggling with change, will you try these three responses with me?
Be honest with yourself and the Lord.
Don’t ignore your feelings about change. Assess them for what they are.
Pray for a spirit that desires to be wind-powered rather than windswept.
Ask God for insight into how this change you are experiencing can give you greater insight into His character.
Look for new opportunities to serve others inside this new season.
Change often brings a new group of people or issues into our view. When our second child was born with special needs, I suddenly “saw” a whole group of mothers I hadn’t seen before, at least not as clearly. I suddenly had doctors and specialists orbiting around my son, many of whom do not know Jesus. I suddenly had the opportunity to embody reliance on the Spirit in a new way. None of these were (or are) easy, but by the Spirit’s power, I have been able to write and serve in new ways because of this change. Keep your eyes open for ways to contribute to kingdom flourishing in your changing season, and put your hands to the plow. He is with you.
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” There are seasons of mourning and seasons of dancing. There are seasons of seeking and seasons of losing. As each of us who have experienced change know, there is so much unspoken between those phrases, so much that occurs in the shift between seeking and losing, dancing and mourning, building up and tearing down.
There are so many reasons we may resist change:
- We fear the change itself; we fear what is on the other side.
- We are comfortable; we like where we are.
- We are uncomfortable; we don’t like where we are, but at least its familiar. We are afraid of what we will lose.
- We are afraid of what we will be asked by the Lord to add.
- We are tired; we are worn from the search for stable ground.
I have experienced every last one of these reasons, felt them deeply inside me. Yet the more I press into the Scripture, into the Spirit’s movement inside me, into the community of believers, the more I remember this truth: tranquility was never promised me, but the presence of God was.
Circumstantial change may take me away from relationships, places, dreams, or plans I loved. It may break my heart. It may reveal truths about me that I would prefer remain hidden from my eyes, and certainly from the eyes of others. But God’s presence, His sovereignty over my life, Jesus’ blood covering me, and the Spirit’s dwelling inside me will never change.
My identity will never change because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, so my circumstances are free to change without mortally wounding me. I am free to feel the sorrow over times past, to embrace the anticipation of the future, because my identity is rooted. I am free to look change in the eye and partner with it, resolving to be powered by its force into greater love for my God and service to His people.
Abby is an old soul, a Jesus girl, better in writing. She is a pastor's wife and mom of two boys, one of whom has a neuro-genetic disorder, which Abby writes about (among other things such as faith, liturgy, depression, social issues, and literature) at www.joywovendeep.com. Abby directs communications for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts - one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations, the other supporting area foster and adoptive families. She has a soft spot for books, podcasts, learning about human relationships through television and movies, personality typing, and pasta. Abby holds a B.A in Communication from Texas A&M University and is completing her graduate degree at Dallas Theological Seminary.